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What to look out for when renovating with pets

We’ve covered moving to a new house with pets before, so it seems appropriate we look at what you need to do when renovating with pets. Renovating is a huge market in Sydney and Australia generally and it has an impact on the whole family, including the family pet.

If you are able to do it, reducing the risk of injury and issues by having your pet rarely or never at a building site is your best option. This might include boarding your pets, leaving them with family, or having them enjoy a pet home-stay with a trusted pet sitter. You can also reduce contact time by considering options such as doggy day-care or taking your dog or cat to work if you are able.

However, you may not have the luxury of boarding your pets or living in another place while renovating. And that’s OK. The team from Fox Valley Animal Hospital is here to let you know what to look out for and how your family pet can stay safe when renovating.

Here’s what to look out for when you are renovating with pets on-site

Asbestos and lead concerns

Any house in Australia built before the 1980s is at risk of containing asbestos and lead. Especially if it has not been renovated previously. Asbestos and lead are dangerous to human and pet alike.

Asbestos puts you at risk of cancer via airborne particles. Lead has toxic properties that may lead to miscarriage, brain damage, infertility, issues with the immune system and more.

Open walls exposed to illustrate the visual link of an article with renovating with pets

Photo by Milivoj Kuhar via Unsplash

In both cases, anyone working on renovations should use appropriate protective gear such as face masks, suits and objects like gloves to minimise contact.

If you are dealing with asbestos, breathing it in is harmful to you and your pet. Every precaution should be taken to ensure this doesn’t occur. Asbestos can be found in wall materials, carpet backing, water pipes, installation, soundproofing and more.

Lead should not be ingested, or fumes inhaled. If you have a pet that often eats items first and asks questions later, they should be kept away from items where lead is commonly found such as paint that is chipping, flaking or being sanded. You may also find it in lead piping, leadlight windows, or by creating lead fumes when using lead products with heat guns and soldering items.

Prior to renovating with pets, you should have a licensed trade professional come to the property and assess your risk for asbestos and lead exposure. They should advise on appropriate ways to protect you, your family and family pets from exposure. You should also consider undertaking a safety course on how to work with asbestos and lead to ensure your safety as well as the safety of those around you.

Planning is your best prevention against issues here.

Pet visibility

Renovating with pets means taking extra precautions to ensure your pet doesn’t end up in situations where they may get injured. The problem is, renovations are often smelly, dusty, dirty affairs. It might be difficult to keep an eye on your family pet.

Thinking about pet visibility is a smart idea. Many a tradie swears by having the work-site dog in visibility wear for example. You can find jackets that help keep your pet visible.

You should also do whatever you can to keep an eye on your pet through other means as well. We recommend having a designated area for your pet during home renovations. That way, you can check your pet is safely out of the work zone prior to commencing.

Playing with wiring (especially young pups and kittens)

When renovating with pets, it helps to think like pets. Young pets especially such as kittens and puppies can be incredibly curious. One area where that curiosity can get them into issues is with exposed wiring.

Chewing, clawing, brushing against and urinating on wires never ends well.

To be on the safe side, whenever you have wires exposed, power points being installed or anything to do with electricity, your family pets should be secured away in another area.

Any contact with wiring that results in a shock, small or otherwise, should be seen to by a vet hospital. A jolt can result in internal burns that may not be visible on the outside. A shock can also shock the heart and give an unusual rhythm or stop the heart completely.

Always seek veterinary assistance when a pet comes into contact with electricity.

Tradie visitors

Renovations with pets means that your pets are on-site with tradies. Not all tradies like pets. Not all pets like tradies. The situation is stressful enough for both parties without adding forced introductions into the mix.

Allow the tradies to do their work without having to navigate stressed, confused and territorial pets. You can do this by keeping your pets in another section of the house where the tradie will not require access.

Suitable places are ones where your tradie isn’t going to need to access areas such as water mains, electrical boxes, toilets, taps, hoses or anything else they may need to shut off or make use of as part of undertaking the work required.

Territory and routine being disturbed

Pets love routine and nothing disturbs routine quite like renovations. That’s why it’s important to establish a new routine and safe zones for play, rest and eating as quickly as you can.

When renovating with pets, you should make sure-

  • Safety is your main priority. Curious family pets often sneak into holes, open wall cavities, piping and other places. If your pet is going to be near areas where construction is taking place, they will need appropriate supervision
  • Any areas where a curious pet could squeeze into should be appropriately covered at all times when work is not being undertaken and off-limits while it is occurring
  • Limit your pet’s exposure to glues, paints and thinners. The fumes may make them unwell and may cause breathing difficulties
  • Do not allow your pet to accidentally drink paints, thinners, chemicals or other liquid substances. Please seek immediate advice from a vet clinic if you have reason to believe they have done so
  • Your pets have a safe, dry, draft and dust free zone to rest and sleep. It’s also best that it is as far away from the sound of power tools and construction as possible
  • Your pets have a designated area for toilet breaks and/or are on a regular timetable of being taken for walks or supervised toileting visits to ensure health and comfort
  • You keep as close to the regular feeding, walking and play times as possible. That way, your pet will feel connected to you and have the foundations of their day intact
  • Gates are closed and fencing is secure. If your pet runs as a result of a loud noise, it may risk becoming lost or collision with traffic
  • You make allowances for skittish behaviour. Your pet is having its routine, territory and lifestyle upended. It may act with fear at loud noises, strange people, changes to surroundings and life in general. Be compassionate and up your emotional pet-care game

If you family pet escapes and/or comes into contact with renovations, please have them seen by the friendly team at Fox Valley Animal Hospital.

Renovating with pets doesn’t have to be a chore

With appropriate planning and safety precautions, you can limit the stress on both you and your family pet during house renovations.

Want advice on how to make renovating with pets as safe as possible? Call our Wahroonga vet clinic on (02) 9489 4805.

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.